PREVENTING FOOD SHORTAGES IS HIGH PRIORITY FOR SOUTH ASIA
April 21, 2020
Adverse Impacts of the World Bank’s Forecast
The forecasted scenarios
translate for South Asia into sharp declines in exports, disruptions in
global value chains, deterioration of investment sentiment, reversal of
capital flows, and reduced remittances.
An extended lockdown for
three months and a more partial lockdown in subsequent quarters would lead
to a negative growth for the region, a contraction of 1%.
On Lockdown in India
The lockdown is necessary,
but not sufficient. It has to be complemented with food distribution,
temporary work programmes and a system of testing and tracing, which is
needed to reopen the economy.
The temporary work programme
could focus on food delivery, production of protective equipment,
disinfection of public spaces and on the testing and tracing system.
Layoffs Abroad and Domestic Migrant Labour Crisis
It is likely that migrant
workers, especially in the Gulf countries, will return home, even if many
are still stuck abroad at the moment. It is the consequence of the global
recession and the sharp drop in oil prices.
They will need to find work
at home and will indeed compete with domestic migrant workers.
That is why the government
should create conditions under which the economy can be reopened and
should play an active role in job creation.
Food Shortages and Tourism
Food Shortage is one of the
Disruptions in the supply
chain and panic buying can lead to price spikes. That, together with loss
of income of many informal workers, can lead to food shortages for the
Releasing strategic reserves
is one tool in the toolbox. Work programmes and food deliveries are other
Export bans will backfire as
they will disrupt food supply chains in the region further.
Tourism will not return to
normal till effective vaccines become widely available. There will be
demand for safe tourism.
That might be an opportunity
for Maldives that with its many atolls and high-end tourism has an
opportunity to test tourists and keep them away from large crowds.
There might be also more
demand for digital services like remote learning or other remote services
and for delivery of e-commerce sales. It is likely that more jobs outside
the tourism industry can be created.